Author's Notes: Please be aware that this fic contains lots of sex. I'm not kidding when I say it's more than a third sex. Like, if you're missing sex in this fandom, save this fic and read it a part a day. If you don't like sex - don't read!
DEDICATION: This fic brought to you by "Lady Marmalade," "Let Me Blow Ya Mind," and "Play," the songs that revived me every time I thought I couldn't write another sex scene. Also dedicated to strandia, who encouraged me every step of the way even though she's not really into Lance/JC. And last but not least, to Cele, who stepped up to beta for me when I got impatient and just had to post now. *g* All mistakes are, nevertheless, mine. I sometimes ignore good advice from my betas.
JC trembled uncontrollably every time.
It didn't matter that he'd been to auction a dozen times, or that the actual sale was conducted in a completely routine, almost bored tone. The moment the guard tugged on the chain and the collar pressed against the back of his neck, he started shaking. It only got worse when he stepped up onto the block.
The shakes would stop, he knew, as soon as the bidding was done and his new owner came to claim him. But for now, he trembled and stared at his feet, unable to confront the sea of faces before him. The sun beat down on his naked body. JC was permitted to wear only the collar and an old pair of sandals during the auction, so that the buyers might better appraise what he had to offer.
JC was deaf to the blandishments of the auctioneer. Some, he knew, were patently false. It was the man's job to move slaves, regardless of ability, appearance, history or...age. JC had been trained as a pleasure slave since he was barely twelve. For ten years, the bidders argued his price so high he couldn't believe he was worth what he earned for those who sold him.
He'd quickly learned, from his fellow slaves, that the higher a price was paid for him, the safer he was. No one was going to damage a valuable possession. Which was why, at his last auction, a coil of fear had formed in his gut when the bidding petered to a halt at barely twice the minimum bid.
Not that his previous owner had treated him badly. She might not have paid much for him on the whole, but it was a lot to her. JC had been her first pleasure slave. The first she could afford. She'd treated him well and kept him for more than two years. She'd owned him for longer than any other before her.
But, as they always did, she'd finally grown tired of him. He got older, she got wealthier, and the time came for her to trade him in for a younger man.
Maybe a steward or a scribe or a cook could expect to be with one owner for their entire life, to be allowed to grow old and serve well and pass peacefully, but not JC. When a pleasure slave passed their prime, they were...repossessed...by the state. Put to work breeding, if they could. Worked to death, if they couldn't.
At 25, JC was past his prime, and he knew it. Perhaps if he'd been more skilled, more enthusiastic with his last mistress she might have passed the word along, even recommended him to a friend. But the truth was that after 13 years in the beds of women he had not chosen and who did not bother to reciprocate, it was all JC could do to arouse himself enough to perform as they expected.
So he stood, and trembled as the auctioneer reluctantly let the opening bid steadily drop closer and closer to the state-regulated minimum. As the price - a bare 25 silvers - was called out over the hot, dusty square, JC closed his eyes and struggled not to show his panic.
He did not see a hand go up in the crowd.
"We have a bid!" the auctioneer crowed in relief. JC's eyes snapped open, but his prospective owner had lowered their hand and could not be identified. "Anyone to better it?" the auctioneer goaded, but without much hope. There were no further bids.
JC was lead off the block and into a small tent. A scribe sat within at a rickety table burdened with a large book, an ink well and a quill. The guard holding the chain clipped to JC's collar pushed him into a kneeling position so that the slave could examine the tattoo on the back of JC's neck. He couldn't remember getting it - he'd been born a slave and marked that way. He didn't even know what the mark said.
As the scribe scribbled something in the book the flaps of the tent rustled as someone entered. The scribe looked up and squinted. "You the new owner?"
JC froze. The voice was deep, smooth, unmistakably masculine. He'd never had a man as an owner before. He fought not to break out into a cold sweat. How would he please a man? For whatever reason, his owners had always been women. Perhaps his appearance just appealed to them more. One woman's male companion had once looked him over with a critical eye and asked, "What do you see in him? He's skinny. All angles. No muscles on him at all."
She'd seemed pleased before the incident, but she'd also sold him little more than a week later.
Now JC wondered wildly if his owner had waited for the price to drop because he wanted someone...expendable. Twenty-five silvers wasn't much of an investment. It was actually almost throwing money away, because there was no way he'd go for more whenever this man was finished with him.
"You are aware," the scribe asked, peering at JC's ownership history, "that he's never served a man before? I won't have you coming back here because he couldn't please you."
"I reviewed his history before I bid. I assure you, I will not be returning with complaints." JC found himself listening with near-desperation to the rich tones of his master's voice, hoping to divine something, anything from the words.
"Well, then. Make your mark here."
JC, not looking, heard the quill scratch over the parchment. A real signature then, not an X. The man was educated. Young, by the sound of his voice. Perhaps he couldn't afford anymore than he had paid. JC's hopes rose.
"Citizen Bass," the scribe sounded surprised. "Surely we can offer you more than this scrawny thing." JC flinched as a drop of ink from the scribe's carelessly flicked quill struck him in the cheek. As quickly as his hopes had risen, they were dashed. The scribe's obsequiousness could mean only one thing. JC's new master was rich, despite his youth. Rich enough to have the slave merchants crawling after him, hoping to tempt him out of his gold.
"No, thank you," Citizen Bass demurred, "I have what I came for." A hand, smooth and warm, the hand of an aristocrat or a wealthy man, closed over JC's shoulder. He fought not to shake.
The guard's chain was unlocked from JC's collar. Citizen Bass fastened the chain he had brought himself. "Stand," he ordered, and JC stood, because a verbal command was better than a harsh tug on the leash or a switch across the back of the thighs.
As he was led through the market and into the residential district, JC kept his eyes on his master's heels, not daring to look up. An obedient slave is a healthy slave, he reminded himself. But that wasn't why he didn't look. He was a pleasure slave. What if he found his master...well...repulsive, for lack of a better word. It had been hard enough to serve his mistresses. A man...JC didn't even know if he would be able to serve a man.
Eventually JC was led through the gates of a townhouse. He blinked in surprise as he watched his feet pass over the threshold of the front door, the lead in Citizen Bass' own hand. He'd always been led in the servants' entrance before.
"Willa," his master said softly, "please take our new companion to his room. I'll speak with him tonight. I want him ready."
There was no verbal response, but the leash was removed from the collar and a small, feminine hand closed over JC's arm and led him away. "You don't have to keep your eyes lowered around here," Willa said, her voice calm and cheerful. JC bit his lip and slowly looked up. He blinked in surprise. Willa couldn't be more than 14. More than that, she wore a slave collar, the same as JC. "Younger than you expected, aren't I?" she grinned at him. "Half the boys think I'm Master Lance's wife or mistress when they first hear me addressed." She giggled and shook her head at the thought.
"Master Lance?" JC asked, more at ease knowing his companion was also a slave.
"Citizen Bass," Willa rolled her eyes. "Most of us call him Lance around here, or Master Lance if we think we ought to be a bit more formal."
"He doesn't mind?"
"He asked us to." They ducked into one more hallway. Willa led him into a room close to the end of it. To JC's surprise, the room was relatively large. The bed within was narrow, obviously not intended for two. There was a desk with writing paper and a quill and inkpot atop it. JC stared. "It says in your history that you're literate," Willa explained. "Master Lance thought you might like the opportunity to write. He didn't know what else you might choose to do with your time."
"Choose?" JC was just getting more and more confused. He was a pleasure slave, wasn't he? Why the narrow bed, the paper, the private room in a wing of the house obviously not frequented by the master of that house?
Willa smiled gently at him. "Master Lance isn't what anyone expects, friend. You'll understand more later. For now, all you need to know is that you'll have as much time to yourself as you want. You'll be brought dinner tonight, but I'll show you the kitchen tomorrow. The girls will be by a candle mark after you've eaten."
"The girls?" JC called, but Willa had already left, her duty done.
JC sat on the bed, feeling lost, and wondered what kind of household and what kind of master he'd been sold to. Eventually, nervous, confused and more than a little scared, JC lay down on the bed and fell asleep.
Later, he awoke to a gentle shaking. A young woman just about his age stood over him, smiling. "Dinner's here," she said, and left. JC sat up and saw a tray sitting on the desk. The writing implements had been moved carefully to one side. Abruptly hungry, JC moved to the desk and began to eat.
The wait after dinner was long. It felt far longer than an hour, though JC was certain "the girls" wouldn't be late. When they arrived, they turned out to be the girl who'd brought him dinner and another a few years older.
"Hi," one said, smiling and setting the things she carried down on the floor. "I'm Merra."
"I'm Kari," the other said, with a little wave.
"Master Lance asked us to get you ready," Merra explained. Kari knelt and spread out a square towel. JC bit his lip. "Don't worry," Merra smiled at his nervousness, "Master Lance is really very kind. Very gentle. You've got nothing to worry about. Just relax."
"Okay," JC said softly, reassured more by their relaxed manner and smiles than by the words. He stepped onto the towel when indicated and let the two of them rub oil into his skin. When every surface had been covered they lifted two flat, smoothly sanded, curved wooden tools and scraped the excess oil and street dust from his body. When they were done, his skin shone almost gold in the candle lit room.
Kari dressed him in a set of loose blue pants. With one of them on either side of him, JC was led out of his room and through the halls of the house. The room they finally left him in was lit brightly with oil lamps. JC was left kneeling on a cushion in the center of the room.
The sound of bare feet on carpet, quiet but there, reached JC's ears. He froze, uncertain. The first night in any house was frightening, when the mistress - or master - was unfamiliar, the routines strange, the people unfriendly. A new pleasure slave rarely received a warm reception from those who had grown less favored.
In this house...JC just didn't know his place.
The footsteps halted in front of him. And then...Citizen Bass sat down.
"Hey," that deep voice said warmly, as though he might be smiling, "you can look up, you know." JC hesitated, not sure if that was an order or not. A warm, gentle hand cupped his chin and lifted it. JC slowly raised his eyes. "Has it been so bad for you?" Citizen Bass asked, slowly withdrawing the hand now that he had JC looking at him.
JC couldn't speak for a moment. Citizen Bass was even younger than he expected. Younger than himself, even. His hair was blond and cut short, his eyes an odd, almost yellow green. JC couldn't seem to not look into them, though a part of him cried out that he was being dangerously insolent.
His master waited, seeming to expect and answer to his question. JC licked dry lips and replied in a near whisper. "No...not so bad. I just...I don't know what you want me to do," he winced at the edge of fear in his voice.
Citizen Bass just smiled. "I know. Allow me explain a few things. I'm...well, I'm looking for someone. A lover, I suppose. A mate. I don't know who he is, I just know I want -- need -- to find him." Citizen Bass looked more than a little sheepish, but continued on. "I know he'll be a slave because free men would not be tolerated together. I know he will be a pleasure slave and I know he will be older than I am because...well, I dreamed it. Strange, maybe, but I've learned to trust my instincts, and that dream felt so right." JC found himself leaning forward a little, fascinated. He caught the motion part way through and arrested it, worried he'd over stepped his bounds.
Citizen Bass had paused in his monologue. JC hesitated, then dared to speak. "Master, I don't know how I could be the one you're looking for," he murmured. "My owners have always been women," he went on, struggling to make this man understand. "I can't please you...I don't know how."
His worries were answered with an amused smile. "First of all, please don't address me as 'master'. Lance will do. Second, I knew when I bought you that you'd never served a man. Actually, that's why I bought you...call me romantic, but I want to be the first to the one I'm looking for. I hope you're him. As for pleasing me," Lance smiled and lifted a hand to stroke JC's jaw line, "I'll teach you how to do that. I'm rather looking forward to our lessons."
JC trembled at the touch, gentle as it was, and cursed himself for his nervousness. What kind of pleasure slave shook with fear at his master's touch?
"So frightened," Lance sighed to himself. "Stand up." JC climbed to his feet, confused once again. Lance stood as well, and stepped forward and wound his arms loosely about JC's waist. "Just relax," he murmured, resting his head on JC's shoulder. "Just relax." They must have stood there for five minutes before JC lifted his arms and reciprocated the embrace. "There you go," Lance murmured, sounding almost sleepy. "What's your name?" he asked after a while.
"My name?" JC asked, startled.
"Your name. The one you gave yourself, not the one your masters give you." JC paused, not certain he wanted to give that part of himself away. Lance's hand rubbed soothingly up and down his back. "I won't hurt you," he whispered. "I promise."
JC let out a long breath, tension leaving his body with it. "JC," he said, hardly believing he had spoken. "My name is JC."
Lance pulled back after a long moment, not seeming to expect any more out of his pleasure slave. "I don't want to over do it on the first night," he said, as though that explained everything. "Lessons will be Wednesday and Saturday nights. All other time is your own. You have the run of the house. Please feel free to talk with the staff. I'd like you to feel...at home."
Lance smiled and cupped JC's cheek one more time, and then he was gone. JC stood in the center of the room, just trying to absorb what had just happened. When at last he turned and tentatively slipped out the door he had come through, Merra and Kari were waiting for him. "We knew you wouldn't know your way around yet," Merra said, smiling. They led him back to his room, pointing out halls and doorways along the way and telling him where they led.
"But really," Kari said at one point, "you won't figure out where everything is until you spend some time exploring."
JC could only shake his head. Everyone he'd met or seen, save Lance, had worn a slave collar. Yet they all wandered about this house like privileged servants or...family.
It was very strange.
It took him almost a whole day to work up the courage to leave his room, but once JC had emerged into the halls of the house he was startled by the warm welcome the inhabitants gave him. Every one of them had a good word for their master. Some of the older servants even teased him, laughing and smiling with no apparent fear.
JC found himself slowly relaxing, leaning to enjoy this strange freedom that Lance's slaves seemed to take almost for granted.
Then he woke up one morning and realized it was Wednesday. One of the days of his "lessons". He was a nervous wreck all day. His stomach twisted into knots and he couldn't eat. He didn't even bother leaving his room for dinner. But dinner came to him, in the form of a man a couple of years older than JC, carrying a tray.
"Hi," he said, slipping into the room when JC opened the door. "I'm Ian. Kari says you've been worrying yourself into a panic about tonight, so I thought I'd drop by for a chat."
"A chat?" JC asked, perching on the edge of his bed and bouncing one leg, still vibrating with nervous energy.
"Yeah," Ian smiled. "I was where you are now, once. Waiting for my first 'lesson' with Lance, confused, not sure what he wanted me to do..."
"I can't tell you what he'll do, but I can swear to you that he never does anything you're not ready for, and if you want him to stop, he will. Immediately. And if you want him never to touch you again, ask, and he won't. But JC?" JC looked up from the carpet and nodded. Ian went on, "Give him a chance. Lance is...he's incredible. I wish I could have given him what he was looking for." Ian looked suddenly sad. "I know he's young, but he's so lonely. It hurts us -- all of us -- to see it. We keep hoping the next one he brings home will be the one he's looking for."
JC studied his feet and bit his lip. "I don't know if I can," he admitted, agonized with uncertainty.
"Look," Ian said, placing a reassuring hand on JC's arm, "do something for me, okay? When you see Lance tonight, look at him. Don't look at your master or your owner or the man you have to serve. Just...look at him. Really look at him. And think about what you see."
Ian gave him arm a squeeze and stood to leave him to his dinner. JC ate slowly, wondering what he could have meant, but resolving to try, if only to figure out what Ian had been talking about.
After dinner, Merra and Kari appeared as they had before and prepared him as they had before, and led him to the same room as they had before. Routine, as it always did, settled JC's nerves. He was relived to find he was not shaking when he knelt on the cushion in the middle of the room. He heard Lance enter shortly thereafter, and, still uncertain but remembering Ian's words, raised his eyes to look at Lance.
He was wearing a thin, almost gauzy white robe. JC looked for a long moment, trying not to see the man who owned him, but just the man. Eventually, it dawned on him what Ian had been wanting him to see.
Lance was really...quite attractive. Maybe even beautiful. JC blinked, startled, and shifted his weight as an odd little shiver went through him. Not fear. Something else...something...warm.
Lance smiled and knelt facing JC. "Hi," he said.
JC, caught off guard, smiled back. "Hi," he ventured.
"I know you're nervous," Lance began, "so just let me know if I'm going too fast, okay?"
"Okay," JC agreed, steeling himself for whatever might be asked of him. But Lance didn't say anything. Instead, he undid the tie on the robe and let it fall open. JC watched, wide-eyed, as Lance shrugged the garment off his shoulders and sat with it pooled on the floor behind him.
"You can just look," Lance said softly, "or you can touch, if you want. I just want you to be comfortable with me. And with you, when you're ready." JC found himself blushing, embarrassed for Lance though Lance didn't seem to be at all self-conscious.
They sat there for the longest time, Lance naked, JC clad only in a pair of pants, just looking. Eventually, JC reached out and laid his hand tentatively on Lance's chest. Lance didn't move, just waited and let him touch. JC bit his lip as another little shiver of heat went through him. Slowly letting his touch grow firmer, he explored Lance's chest, his arms, his thighs with first one hand and then both of them. It was different to feel a man's body under his hands, rather than a woman's. Strange, but good.
It quickly became obvious that Lance was enjoying JC's explorations. His cock grew flushed and hardened as JC's hands moved. Glancing up, JC saw that Lance was blushing now, but he made no move to cover himself or to pull away from JC's hands.
His hands resting on Lance's thighs, JC eyed Lance, then reached out and drew one finger down his cock. Lance let out a shuddering breath. JC rocked back on his heels, startled, but the warm little shiver than had shook him before abruptly bloomed into a flush of heat that made his skin tingle.
"I'm sorry," Lance said, smiling weakly, "I didn't mean to startle you. It's just...you're...well," he sighed and ducked his head as though nervous, "it's just that you're...well...gorgeous." He flushed and looked away from JC.
JC smiled. "Really?"
"Really," Lance assured him. They sat for a moment longer, but the lesson seemed to be over. Lance stood eventually and left with a quiet, "Until Saturday."
JC found his own way back to his room, lost in thought. He found Ian waiting for him. "Ian?"
"I thought you might want to talk," the older man explained, and patted the bed beside himself. JC sat. "So. Did you see?"
JC blushed and shrugged. "Yeah. I think. He's...beautiful."
"Yeah," Ian grinned. "If you let yourself, you'll enjoy his lessons."
Ian nodded. "But...well, he always seems to know what we need. Mark before me, Samuel after me, he understood us all. I think he'll understand you, too. If you let him."
"Did any of you ever understand him?" JC asked, curious.
"No," Ian shook his head. "We never did. We weren't who he was looking for."
They talked for a while longer, though JC's thoughts kept wandering back to Lance. Eventually, Ian left him to sleep. He smiled as he left, and wished JC good dreams. Curled up in his bed, JC couldn't help but wonder what Saturday would bring.
JC quickly discovered how strange it was to have so much free time. Normally a pleasure slave lived in a state of constant readiness, prepared to serve his mistress at any moment. Knowing exactly when he would be needed left him a lot of time to...well, he didn't really know what to do. Nervous of exploring the house, but curious, JC took to following the other slaves around on their tasks. This led to him being put to work. As one older woman had said, exasperated, "Well, if you're going to be on my heels, you might as well make yourself useful!"
JC had succeeded so well in keeping himself busy that he forgot it was Saturday until Merra and Kari showed up in his room after dinner. He held onto the routine they'd established like a life raft. It gave him a moment to settle his thoughts.
And then something was different. Instead of the blue pants, Kari held out a white robe much like the one Lance had worn. JC accepted it hesitantly. "Hey," Kari said softly. "You know Master Lance wouldn't ask anything of you that you aren't ready for."
"I know," JC said, but he didn't. He slipped on the robe.
The rest of the routine was the same. Kneeling, waiting for Lance, JC fingered the ties of the robe and couldn't bring himself to look up when he heard Lance enter.
There was a rustle of clothing. JC peered up through his eyelashes and was surprised to find Lance fully dressed. Neither of the spoke. JC shifted uncertainly as the silence stretched on. Eventually he raised his head and, a while later, lifted one hand to massage his stiff neck muscles.
They sat there for a long time before JC realized that Lance was waiting for him to do something. JC remembered their last lesson and fought down a blush. He reached for the tie of his robe and hesitated, uncertain. Lance hadn't asked, but he was obviously waiting. Waiting for JC to figure it out?
Waiting for me to be comfortable? he wondered. A moment later he undid the tie and let the robe fall open. Lance smiled, but didn't move. JC shrugged the robe off of his shoulders and waited.
"Do you mind if I touch?" Lance asked, and JC blinked in surprise.
He used his next words to conceal a deep, calming breath. "Go ahead."
Lance took him at his word. Rising onto his knees and shuffling forward a little, he reached out one hand and cupped JC's chin. A familiar touch. From there he let his hand slide slowly, gently down JC's neck and over the slope of his shoulders. JC closed his eyes and tried to let out a normal breath, but it still came out a little uneven.
A second hand joined the first on JC's arm, trailing down his bicep and circling his forearm. Lance pressed JC's hand between his palms for a moment before lifting them to start on the other arm. He seemed to be mapping JC's body, learning it by touch as well as by sight.
JC worked to relax, to accept Lance's touch. He tried pulling up an image in his mind's eye, a trick that had often worked for his mistresses, but the only image that would come was that of Lance, sitting calm and aroused under JC's own hands. A rush of warmth spread through him as if called through time from that moment.
Lance's hands had moved to explore his chest now. JC's eyes fluttered open as Lance's hands came to rest at his waist, his thumbs brushed softly over his belly. JC wondered idly if Lance wanted him aroused and then realized, with no small embarrassment, that he already was. He opened his mouth to speak, but Lance laid a finger across him lips. "Don't speak," he ordered, then hesitated, "unless you want me to stop." JC swallowed the words that had been on his lips.
Lance smiled, his relief transparent. Then he crawled around JC and started running his hands over JC's shoulders and back. Lance's touch was first firm, then feather light, over and over. JC let his eyes drift closed and leaned into the touch a little, allowing himself to enjoy the simple, non-threatening caress. He wasn't aware of just how relaxed he'd become until he realized that he was leaning back against Lance's chest, the other man's hands gently stroking up and down his thighs.
"Are you comfortable?" Lance asked softly. It took JC a minute to realize he meant in the house.
"Yes," he murmured, feeling almost sleepy. He paused. "I've...never had my own room before."
"I thought you might like the privacy." JC had nothing to say to that. "Do you want me to go?"
Surprised, JC turned his head where it lay on Lance's shoulder and looked up at him, but he couldn't answer. "Hasn't anyone ever asked you what you wanted before?" Lance asked, his eyebrows rising.
Suddenly uncomfortable with the embrace, JC crawled a few feet away and then froze, aghast at his own termity. Lance sighed softly behind him, and JC started trembling again. A moment later something cool and soft settled over his shoulders. The robe.
"Wednesday," Lance said, and touched JC lightly on the back of the neck before leaving the room.
JC crouched there for a long time before he gathered himself together enough to wrap the robe around his body and creep out of the room. He was trembling, confused. Every time he thought he understood something, he was wrong.
Instead of seeking own his own room and solitude, he went looking for Ian. The moment the older man saw him Ian hustled JC into his room and shut the door. "Hey," he reassured, giving JC a long hug, "it's okay. I promise it's okay. What's wrong?"
"I don't understand," JC cried. "I don't know what he wants me to do. I can't tell what he wants.."
"Oh, JC," Ian sighed and gathered his friend into his lap like a child. "Lance wants what you want, nothing more, nothing less. But he knows that sometimes we're afraid to ask for what we want, so he tries to ease us into it, to tempt us to reach out. That's all."
"I'm a slave," JC whispered, his face buried in Ian's shoulder, "I'm not here for me."
"Haven't you figured it out yet?" Ian asked. "No one in this house is a slave. Not really. We wear the collars because, for one reason or another, we wouldn't be allowed to stay if we were free. Any one of us could walk up to Lance tomorrow and ask for his or her freedom, and he would grant it with well wishes. Including you."
JC sat there for a long time, trying to understand this. "It's...it's okay for me to...want...something from him?"
Ian paused for a moment, considering his answer. He went with a simple, "Yeah, JC. It's okay."
If JC had forgotten between Wednesday and Saturday that he would soon be seeing Lance again, between Saturday and the next Wednesday he thought of nothing else. He was alternately terrified and curious. When the night came, he looked immediately to see whether Kari carried the pants or the robe. To his surprise, she held both.
Merra explained. "Master Lance couldn't decide which you would expect, which would make you more comfortable," she paused and bit her lip. "JC...he wants so much for you to be able to relax with him. I don't know what happened last time, but..." she shrugged.
JC nodded, nervous all over again. But he chose the robe.
It occurred to him, as he padded through the hallways on his own, that he could simply choose not to show up. He reached the doors of the room and paused, struck by the thought. Then he pushed the door open and went in to kneel on the cushion, as he always did.
When Lance entered, his sigh of relief was audible. He sat down in front of JC, carefully setting a clay bowl down beside him. He, too, was wearing a robe. "I thought you might not come," Lance said, smiling when JC looked up at him.
"I wanted to," JC answered, fidgeting a little.
"I'm glad," Lance said, and though his voice was calm he was grinning. It was infectious. JC couldn't help but smile along with him.
Curiosity won out over nervousness for the moment and the bowl drew JC's eyes. "Did you have something planned?" he asked diffidently.
Lance hesitated. "I thought...I might give you a massage," he offered.
"Okay," JC agreed. Lance tugged over another cushion so that JC could stretch out on his stomach. JC managed not to pause too long before shedding the robe, but he did lie down a little quickly. He felt dangerously vulnerable, lying naked on his belly before the man who was his master...even if he didn't act like it.
Tension began to coil in his shoulders, but JC refused to give in to it. Instead he concentrated on not shaking. He was so intent that the drizzle of warm oil along his spine came as a surprise. Lance spread the oil with firm, almost impersonal strokes. His thumbs pressed deeply, releasing the knots that had twisted JC's muscles.
Lance seemed determined to confine himself to JC's back. He rubbed until JC's spine felt positively liquid and his eyelids drooped. Then, slowly, the tone of the massage began to change. Lance's strokes grew less impersonal, lighter, more sensuous. His hands ventured below JC's waistline, then pressed lightly against his tailbone. JC sighed softly and surprised himself with a little surge of disappointment when Lance moved to massage his arms next.
The gentle, teasing strokes seemed to go on forever. JC lay limp and allowed himself to enjoy the slow build of heat that he'd finally realized was desire. It pooled liquidly in his groin and seeped from there into his gut, his arms, his legs. Everywhere Lance touched he tingled. Every press of Lance's fingers into his skin seemed to urge a little of that liquid heat into his cock, slowly filling it to hardness.
JC's mind wandered as he let his body loose of its control. He'd never reacted so freely to his mistresses, not even the most kind, the most forgiving. Indeed, most of them had wished, with a sigh, that he were more responsive. He had thought that being with a man would be harder, even a man as attractive as Lance.
Instead his body seemed to react without his even realizing it. A touch, a look, even these were enough to provoke a response. It was...it was...strange...good?
Lance's hands were working his way up JC's legs now. Confident strokes gave way to nervous petting. JC felt supple, malleable. He wondered idly what had Lance so uncertain. And then he realized what the only part of him that remained untouched was. He lay still, relaxed, waiting for Lance to decide whether or not he, JC, was ready.
JC couldn't decide for himself. He didn't know.
At last Lance brushed tentative hands over JC's ass. JC bit his tongue - literally - to hold back a gasp, afraid Lance might mistake a sound of pleasure for a sound of fright. A moment later Lance touched him again, more firmly. JC caught his breath and let it out in a short moan as Lance gave his ass a long, slow squeeze.
Lance withdrew his touch with a parting stroke. JC lay, almost panting, and wished he could find the word or the courage to ask for another touch. Neither would come, so he rolled onto his side and just looked up at Lance. His lips were full and a little reddened, as if he'd been biting them, which prompted JC to wonder what it would be like to kiss him. To be kissed. He was sure he'd been kissed before, but that this moment JC couldn't remember what it had been like.
He sat up slowly, his cock heavy and hard between his thighs, and wondered if Lance would mind.
The moment passed before JC could scrape together any initiative. He was torn between relief and disappointment when Lance scooped up his robe, held it out and murmured, "Until Saturday, then." JC was oddly proud that Lance's voice, ordinarily so deep, became little deeper, a little thicker than usual.
Left alone, he took a few minutes to calm his body's reaction before venturing out into the hallway. On his way to his room, JC was unaware of the odd little smile on his face, or the way the other slaves grinned at him and whispered to each other.
He crawled between the sheets of his bed and lay there, mind racing. What would have happened if he had kissed Lance?
He'd kiss me back, JC realized, and fell asleep to that thought.
"I don't know why you sit here peeling potatoes," the cook said to JC, "when you don't have to be doing anything at all."
He shrugged. "I've never been allowed to use my hands before. I kind of like it."
"Not allowed to use your hands?" one of the kitchen maids asked as she hurried by.
"None of my owners wanted me to risk getting cuts or calluses," he explained with a shrug.
"Wow," another girl said, headed in the opposite direction of the first, "you must have been one hell of a pleasure slave."
JC paused in his peeling and smiled as he realized she spoke in the past tense. "Yeah," he mused, "I guess I was."
"I wouldn't mind a job like that," the cook said, and frowned at her reddened hands and slightly swollen fingers. "Master Lance is generous, but cooking is hard work when you do it right."
JC shrugged. "I'd rather be a cook than a pleasure slave," he confessed.
Pretty much everyone in the kitchen stopped and looked at him, surprised. "Why?" someone asked, but everyone waited for the answer.
JC put down the peeling knife and propped his chin up in one hand. "It's not a life of luxury, you know," he began, eyes going a little unfocused as he remembered. "For one thing, they start you when you're around 14. Sometimes younger. At that age, you've barely even started noticing whether or not people are attractive. Then you're plunged into this world where no one wants anything from you except sex." He frowned. "That doesn't really do it justice. It's that...sex is the only thing a pleasure slave is good for. And because that's all you're good for, you are expected to be available to your master -- or mistress -- at all time, regardless of your own desires. There were times when it was all I could do to arouse myself for the occasion. Plus you haven't really got anything to look forward to. Once a pleasure slave gets too old to attract new owners, he or she is sold off to breed, or to work." For an instant, that moment on the auction block in the hot sun when the auctioneer had called the minimum bid came back to him with a vengeance. He shivered.
"Did you ever enjoy it?" a soft voice asked. JC looked up from his hands but the speaker didn't identify herself.
He shrugged and addressed the room at large. "No, not really." He hesitated, smiled shyly and went on, "But...I am kind of looking forward to Saturday." Abruptly embarrassed, JC fled to the safety of his own room.
It was Saturday. JC made himself eat, even though his stomach was tied up in knots. He couldn't help running scenarios through his head. What would Lance have planned? What would they do? He wondered, and hoped, and got scared, and wondered all over again. He was standing before Merra and Kari even got in the door. They traded an amused glance before laying down the towel and moving to get him ready.
For the first time JC realized just how...intimate this ritual was. He wondered why the touch of their hands, oil slick as Lance's had been days before, drew no reaction when the warmth of Lance's palm sparked a flush of heat.
It didn't matter, he realized. It just was.
On the way to the room eagerness hurried his steps. At the door, nervousness made him pause. He waited for so long that a passing slave cast a glance at him and said, "For goodness sake, boy, just go in!" Laughing, JC slipped inside the door and shut it behind himself.
He was horrified to discover that he'd waited so long that Lance had arrived first. In the instant before he looked up and saw JC, he looked so heart-brokenly disappointed that JC ached for him. "I'm sorry," JC said, hurrying forward and sliding to his knees. He smiled and bit his lip.
Lance looked down at his hands. "If you don't want to be here," he said softly, "I'm not going to make you."
JC reached out and lifted Lance's chin gently. "Sometimes," he hesitated, "sometimes it's hard to believe you want me here..."
"Why?" Lance asked, honestly surprised.
"I'm too skinny," JC drops his hand and looks away. "Too many angles. Too old. And...I've never been very good at what I do."
Lance reached out slowly and opened JC's robe, letting it fall away from his body. He looked for a long time, as though he'd never laid eyes on JC before. Then he raised his eyes and caught JC's gaze. "You're beautiful," he murmured. "So beautiful."
JC couldn't help it. He blushed. Gathering his courage in both hands, he reached for the tie of Lance's robe. "I've...I've been looking forward to today," he admitted, so softly he almost didn't hear himself. Then he gave a gentle tug on the tie and pushed Lance's robe off of his shoulders.
His strength deserted him then. He knelt, unable to tear his eyes from Lance's sculpted body, unable to reach out despite having spent days working himself up to it. "Lance?" he asked in a very small voice, dragging his eyes up.
JC licked his lips. "Kiss me?" His lips formed the words but no sound emerged.
Lance must have understood anyway, because in the next moment he leaned forward and pressed his lips to JC's. It was a chaste kiss, so brief JC barely had time to respond. For a moment after Lance sat back on his heels their roles were reversed. JC was calm, knowing what he'd do next, and Lance was scared, uncertain of his actions. JC acted in that moment, moving forward to draw Lance into a longer, more intimate kiss.
Their lips slid together, warm and moist with saliva. JC closed his eyes, rested his hands on Lance's shoulders and did his best to lose himself in that instant of sensation. Lance nibbled gently on JC's lower lip as they parted, letting the bit of flesh go only reluctantly.
JC didn't pull back far. He used his grip on Lance's shoulders to hold himself up and to hold Lance away...or maybe to keep him close. They knelt, mere inches apart, the sound of their breathing heavy in the silence. JC's heart was pounding in excitement or fear. He'd moved first! He opened his eyes and found himself staring right into Lance's gaze.
"Oh!" he exclaimed, surprised, and moved to pull away.
Lance caught his hands as they left his shoulders. "Wait!" JC paused, both hands clasped in Lance's. "Just...let me hold you for a minute?" Lance asked. JC bit his lip, but agreed. Smiling with relief, Lance tugged JC slowly into his lap.
The quiet press of bare skin against bare skin was strangely unfamiliar to JC. Maybe he'd just never paid attention before. Maybe he'd been far better than he thought at blocking out all the times he'd served. Whatever the reason, the texture of Lance's skin against his was new. The soft rasp of Lance's sparse chest and leg chair made JC's skin almost ticklishly sensitive.
Lance's arms crept around his waist, eventually settling almost skittishly on JC's stomach. JC covered Lance's arms with his own, the touch light but definite. As he relaxed into the embrace he leaned back and was quickly treated to the rub of Lance's hardness against his tailbone. "Sorry," Lance murmured, and went to pull. JC held onto the arms around his waist and squirmed back the few inches Lance had managed to pull away.
"'Sokay," he said softly.
They sat there for a long time.
Tuesday morning JC woke up restless. He wandered around the parts of the house that he knew and got in everyone's way but refused to stay put long enough to help with the chores he disrupted. The cook finally enlisted Ian to intercept him.
"What got you so twitchy?" Ian asked, amused.
JC bounced on the balls of his feet. "I don't know," he shrugged, "I've been restless ever since I woke up.
"What's that supposed to mean?" JC demanded.
"Nothing," Ian demurred, "just a sound."
"Right," JC rolled his eyes. "What do you do to relax around here, anyway? I've learned everyone's chores," he grinned, "but so far my leisure time is limited to sleep and a little bit of writing."
"Well, I read a lot. There's a library."
"A library?" JC squeaked. "Just how wealthy is Lance?" Ian laughed and led the way to the library. Anyone who reacted to the idea with incredulity would want to see it.
Despite a couple of hours of distraction the in library, JC only grew more restless as the day wore on. That night he just sat on his bed and bounced, completely unable to sleep. The next day dragged on, though by evening JC was calmer, if only because he was tired. Merra and Kari traded an exasperated glance when they arrived, but did their best to work around his constant jittering.
While he waited for Lance, JC looked around the room they always met in for the first time. It was smaller than it had seemed, at first. Cushions much like the one he knelt on now were strewn over the floor. Wall hangings brought color to the room. A bed was tucked away in one corner, but there was no indication that anyone slept there regularly. JC blushed.
A moment later one of the wall hangings shifted. Watching it curiously, JC mentally 'ahh'ed in understanding when Lance emerged from behind it. He looked momentarily surprised - but pleased - to find JC watching him. He walked over to JC and sat down. "Hi," he said, smiling.
"Hi," JC replied, and crawled right into Lance's arms before he could think twice about it.
"Oh!" Lance blurted, surprised, but he wrapped JC in a close embrace. His hands rubbed up and down JC's back. "I'm going to lie down now," he murmured after a while, and took JC with him as he stretched out on the soft floor.
JC lay on his side and watched Lance, unaware of the temptation he presented, so relaxed, his hair falling into his eyes, the neck of his robe sagging open just a little. Lance reached out and slipped his hand into the gap. His hand moved lightly across JC's chest, fingers just brushing a nipple. JC's eyes fluttered closed. He leaned into the touch, and in his mind's eye it was still Lance's hands that played over his skin.
There was a soft rustle of air as his robe was removed, echoed by a small sigh. JC was still, trusting himself - for the moment - to Lance's touch. When he did open his eyes, it was only to reach out and push aside Lance's own robe. He'd just slid one hand onto Lance's hip when Lance scooted closer.
"JC," Lance said quickly, "please relax. Please?" JC buried his face in Lance's neck and let out a long, shaky breath. He was trembling again, but he didn't pull away. Lance petted him, long, slow strokes meant to soothe. JC bit back an apology, but he couldn't seem to make himself lean into the embrace. "JC," Lance whispered into his ear, "I just...I want to do something for you."
"For me?" JC asked, attempting to lose his fear in curiosity. Lance's hand swept up his back. He trailed his fingers over the back of JC's neck. JC shivered as the spot bloomed into an unexpected bubble of heat. The trail of Lance's hands - one up and down his back, one stroking the back of his thigh - spread little fingers of anticipatory pleasure along his nerves.
"For you," Lance confirmed, never stilling the motions of his hands. Every now and then his fingers would search out another spot on JC's body and another pool of heat would spring into life. Odd little places, like the point of one shoulder blade, the small of his back, behind one knee, the curve of a rib...
Lance was waiting for an answer, JC realized. "Oh... Okay," he gasped a little as Lance's leg rubbed a little against his. He hadn't realized they were so close.
Lance kissed him softly behind one ear. One of his hands broke from its exploration of JC's ribs and over his belly. JC gasped as Lance closed his hand firmly around JC's half-hard cock. His hips jerked forward into the grip uncontrollably. Trembling once again, but not from fright, JC wrapped one arm around Lance's waist.
Pleasure washed through him, whole unexpected waves of it. Lance's hand moved over him, first slowly, then faster, harder. JC clung to Lance and moaned. He forgot his fear, his nervousness, his worries about what Lance wanted and what he wanted and what to do. His mind was filled with the throbbing ache of desire in his groin and the sweet, intense sensations Lance's touch drew forth.
Hips thrusting unconsciously into Lance's hand, JC's climax tore through him with a suddenness that surprised both of them.
JC barely noticed Lance cleaning him off with the corner of one of their robes. He simply lay curled around Lance, still tingling with ebbing pleasure. Lance leaned in and kissed him, a long, slow kiss. JC's lips opened easily to the caress of Lance's tongue and he kissed back languidly, satisfaction making him sleepy.
When he eventually roused himself Lance had gone, leaving the unsoiled robe for him to wear back to his room. Only then did it occur to JC that he'd done nothing for Lance in return. He startled himself by feeling vaguely guilty for that.
"Hey, Ian," JC asked, fidgeting with the hem of his shirt. A book lay open but unheeded on the table before him.
"Yeah?" Ian replied distractedly, barely up from the volume he was engrossed in.
"Did you...um...did you, you know, enjoy Lance's...lessons?"
Ian closed the book and thought awhile before replying. "They weren't bad," he shrugged, "but I never was particularly attracted to men."
JC tilted his head curiously. "How did you know you didn't like men? Hadn't you served both?"
Ian nodded, "But that doesn't mean I enjoyed both. The men...I worked to please the men. With women, sometimes it was work. But sometimes I would be in the mood when they were in the mood, and it was quite good," he paused. "It's not hard to know. If you enjoy it..." he shrugged again. After a quiet moment, Ian asked, "Do you?"
"What?" JC looked up from his book.
"Do you enjoy Lance's lessons?" JC flushed hotly and looked down at the page, though he didn't really see it. "Hey," Ian prompted JC to look up, "it's okay, you know. It's good that you enjoy being with him. Lance wants you to want him. If you didn't, he'd stop the lessons."
JC bit his lip and spoke slowly, quietly. "No one's ever made me feel like he makes me feel," he confessed. "Half the time I'm scared silly and half the time I'm eager, and I never know when I'm going to be which or why. I..." he trailed off for a moment. "I want him," he finally murmured, nibbling on a fingernail. "I even want him to want me."
"He does," Ian reassured, smiling.
"I know," JC said, shrugging, "but I want him to."
When Lance arrived on Saturday JC kissed him hello. Not even a quick kiss. No, it was almost lingering. Lance had hardly even seated himself before JC was disrobing him. Lance's hand, firm on his wrist, stopped him. He looked up, confused.
"You don't have to," Lance looked concerned.
"I want to," JC said softly, not understanding.
"Okay," Lance let go of his wrist. JC cast aside the robe, but paused as he opened his own. He bit his lip, suddenly unsure of himself all over again. He was so used to being reluctant that he got lost for a moment in being eager. Did Lance want him? He'd never appealed to men before, why should he now?
Feeling a little deflated, JC sat back and drew his knees up to his chest. Hiding. "JC?" Lance asked, but JC put his head down on his knees. "What's wrong?" Lance's voice is so beautiful, JC thought. Deep and smooth and unconsciously sensual. The realization only made him more self-conscious. "JC?" Lance reached out and touched his knee lightly. If JC could lean into such a brief, almost disconnected touch, he would have. He'd been thinking about today, about what to do, how to act, since the last time they were together...and now it was all falling apart. He ached for Lance and wished desperately that he hadn't learned how to want.
"JC..." Fingers laced themselves into his hair. A strong hand forced him to lift his head. Lance's incredible green eyes stared into his. JC wasn't sure what Lance read in his gaze, but whatever it was, he abandoned whatever words he'd prepared and leaned down and kissed JC instead.
There was nothing tentative about this kiss, nothing experimental. Lance claimed his mouth the way JC had expected him to right from the beginning. It was hot, hard, deep. Slick tongues sliding together, JC's lips pressed almost painfully against his teeth by Lance's mouth. It was intense. It was taste and touch and smell and heat.
It was exactly what he wanted. What he needed.
The slide of hands over his skin brought JC to the awareness that he was naked, kneeling, leaning hard into Lance's also-kneeling form. Their bodies, their arms, twisted together, two puzzle pieces not quite right for each other but trying very, very hard.
JC gave into hunger. He let himself not think, just for this moment. Fuck master and slave, fuck freedom, fuck insecurity. Just want. Pure, clean, want. Instinct released.
Their thighs fit together like the teeth of a zipper. JC's body rocked and surged against Lance's. His hands skittered over pale, unmarked skin and painted red lines of passion on the canvas. Beautiful.
JC ground his cock against Lance's hard, solid thigh and returned the favor with the regular, surging motions of his legs against Lance. They clenched their bodies together, jerky motions accompanied by harsh, choked cries of want and need and yes...so...good...
Warmth, sticky and shocking, spread between them.
JC rocked back on his heels and cleaned himself with the robe before putting it on. He laid a last, absurdly gentle kiss on Lance's bruised lips.
He left first.
JC's first thought when he woke up the next morning went something along the lines of "OH FUCK."
"What the hell did I do?" he muttered to himself, almost falling out of bed in his haste to get dressed. "You're a slave, damn it. Forgetting what you're here for is stupid, completely stupid." He struggled into his shirt and hopped around on one foot, trying to insert the other into a pant leg. "You've got to stick it out here as long as you can, because the next time you step off that auction block it'll be into the breeding compounds."
JC paused, dressed, and realized that he had no idea where he was going. "Go to the source," he muttered, and ran his hands through his hair once before hurrying out of the room.
For whatever reason, the only place JC had never been to in his adventures following the other slaves around was Lance's own rooms. He knew from hearing the scribes' talk that Lance had an adjoining bedroom, bath and study. The only reason JC could think of for his never having wandered there, even accidentally, was that none of the slaves worked there. What kind of master did without personal servants? Except for the scribes, of course. They had never tolerated JC's hovering.
Of course, JC knew which hallways led to those rooms, just by process of elimination. If he'd been everywhere else and not found Lance's private sphere, it must be the place he hadn't been. Now he lurked for a moment at the opening of the hallway and, taking a deep breath, launched himself into its depths.
It was a short hall, with one door on either side. JC tried the left. It was unlocked. He stepped inside and found himself in a large, private bathroom. It was nothing less than luxurious. There was a tap on the bathtub!
JC shook his head and forced himself through the other door on the far side of the tiled room. It led into a small, comfortable room furnished in warm browns. The study. Lance was nowhere to be seen. JC checked the time candle that still burned in one corner of the room. It was late. Afternoon. Where was Lance?
Biting his lip, JC crossed the room and reached for the door on the far side of the study. It swung open under his fingertips, apparently not having been shut all the way. The room on the other side of the door was lit palely by the light that filtered through thin curtains. The strength of the light argued for glass windows. Expensive. JC was beginning to understand just how wealthy Lance was.
The bed beneath the curtained window was large and...occupied. Lance, swathed in sheets, sprawled across the mattress. JC hovered in the doorway. He'd come to beg forgiveness, but he hadn't expected to find Lance sleeping. He couldn't very well wake the man up.
Lance shifted and muttered in his sleep. The sheets migrated down his form, exposing a bare shoulder and a bit of his back. JC blinked, realizing that Lance slept virtually naked. Uncommon, for an aristocrat or a merchant. JC found himself studying the drape of the sheets, fingers twitching to draw back the concealing cloth despite the fact that he'd seen it all before.
JC retreated from the suite of rooms, but stopped in the mouth of the hallway, his back to the rest of the house.
"I hope you didn't go in there and do something stupid."
JC jumped and spun. Ian stood behind him. "Like what?"
"Like apologize for whatever made you such a mess when you woke up today."
"How'd you know?" JC asked, blushing hotly.
"Merra spotted you during your rush over here. She sent me to knock some sense into you. I fear I am too late."
JC shook his head. "He was sleeping. I didn't want to wake him..."
"Good," Ian said, and took him by the elbow. "Now let's go back to your room and talk the panic out of your head."
"What makes you think I'm panicked?"
"I know you, JC," Ian said, shaking his head. JC smiled when he realized it was true.
Over the next couple of days JC did something he'd never dared to do before: he asked the other slaves about Lance.
It wasn't that they didn't talk about their master, because they did, often. It was just that JC had never asked about him before. Especially not on Thursdays and Sundays. He was terrified to find out how Lance reacted to their nights together. JC wasn't sure which of the infinite kinds of mornings after he was afraid to find out about.
The kitchen slaves were the biggest gossips, but Lance rarely ate outside his rooms. When he did, it was usually in the name of business meetings. The scribes were harder to corner, but had more information. The real gold mine, however, was a young man named Michael, who confessed shyly to JC that he wanted to set up his own trading house when Lance freed him. The only reason he was still a slave, he informed JC confidently, was so that Lance could teach him quickly and without the interference of the other merchants.
The trust Michael had in Lance was phenomenal. Almost as startling as the knowledge that it was probably deserved.
Despite his relentless gossiping, JC learned little except that Lance had slept late the morning after. He knew that already.
Frustrated, JC took comfort in Ian's words. "Lance has been looking for whoever he's looking for for a long time now, JC. As generous as he is, he's gotten protective of himself. He's not about to advertise his reactions."
"I know," JC rubbed a hand over the back of his neck, "but it doesn't give me a whole lot to go on, you know?"
"Yeah," Ian said with an odd little smile.
JC lay back on his bed and studied the ceiling. Ian sat on the edge of it, waiting. "Ian...how far did your lessons go before they finished?"
Ian rubbed nervous hands up and down his thighs, but he answered. "We, um, we didn't make it much past touching each other for the first time. Just touching."
JC propped himself up on one elbow. "Just touching?" he asked, surprised. "Lance-"
Ian cut him off with a shake of his head. "No. I stopped then. I just...didn't show up one day. He never made an issue of it. That was the end of it." He was quiet for a moment. "He's not around anymore, but Samuel - he had Lance's lessons after me - stuck with him for a long time. Lance was the one who pulled back from that. We're still not sure what it was that made him realize Sam wasn't the man he was looking for."
JC lay down again and looked up at the ceiling. "I'm looking forward to seeing him again."
"That's a good thing, JC," Ian said, amused.
JC shook his head. "No, it's not. I don't know how everyone here managed to forget it, but I can't. I'm a slave, Ian. I'm here to please my master, not myself. Lance...Lance makes me want to be with him for me."
"JC...it's all right," Ian's tone of voice was helpless. "I don't know how to explain this to you, but that's what Lance wants. He wants to be wanted."
"It's dangerous," JC murmured, as if he hadn't heard. "I should be faking it. I shouldn't be feeling it..." Troubled, he stood and wandered out of the room.
Ian stared after him and shook his head. "You'll learn," he murmured and shook his head. "I hope."
JC waited for Lance. He forced himself not to fidget, but he watched the tapestry that concealed the other door with intense concentration. When Lance emerged JC dropped his eyes quickly, then couldn't help but glance again a moment later. Lance was smiling.
He dropped down next to JC comfortably. Their knees brushed whenever one of them shifted position. "You want to tell me what happened Saturday?" he asked casually.
JC winced. "I'm sorry," he muttered miserably, but was cut off before he could go on.
"What for?" Lance asked, still smiling.
"For forgetting my place," JC whispered, ashamed, and stared at his hands.
"How can you forget your place when you haven't found it yet?" JC glanced up, surprised, and was caught up into a long, slow kiss. "Stop thinking so hard, JC. You have good instincts."
JC took a deep, shuddering breath and closed his eyes as Lance's scent invaded him. "I'm not so sure of that," he murmured, feeling arousal stir. Lance's mouth, warm and wet, closed over a point on his neck. JC gasped and reached out, his hands closing on Lance's hips. Lance licked the spot softly before moving on to taste JC's collarbone. "I should..." he lost his train of thought when Lance's hand slipped inside the folds of his robe and pressed against his belly, fingers stroking lightly.
"Just talk to me," Lance whispered, his lips brushing JC's shoulder as he moved on, slowly twitching the robe out of the way.
JC's mind stuttered toward the goal he had intended, derailed at times by the warm, wet kiss of Lance's mouth against his skin. "I should be here for you," he gasped. His hand crept, seemingly of its own will, up Lance's back to hold the nape of his neck.
"You are here for me," Lance's voice blew a stream of air across damp flesh. JC shivered and opened his mouth to speak, but all that emerged was a moan as Lance closed his mouth over one of JC's nipples. His body rippled into the caress, eager on a level more basic than thought.
"Lance," JC breathed, voice rough with arousal, "I want to do something for you."
Lance lifted his mouth from JC's chest and kissed his lover long and slow. "Then do," he responded, smiling, and went to work teasing JC's other nipple.
JC was lost briefly in the rush of blood through his body. His heart pounded and it seemed that it pumped pleasure rather than blood. Finally, overwhelmed with need, JC let out a long moan and pulled Lance's head up for a kiss before pushing him over backwards. Robes were discarded almost absentmindedly.
Intent on giving pleasure rather than receiving it, the damp caresses of JC's lips and teeth and tongue were guided more by enthusiasm than by skill. Being with Lance was so different from anyone he had served before. The moment he closed his mouth over Lance's skin he was addicted to the taste. The little gasps and moans, the way Lance twitched under his touch... All of it sent a little thrill of excitement through JC.
The tightening of a nipple under JC's tongue sent a surge of arousal through him, a pulse of sensation that began in his mouth and rolled through him until it settled, hot and tight, in his groin. An idea, a fantasy, flashed through JC's mind and before he quite understood what he was doing he found his tongue tracing the lines of Lance's abs down, past his belly, past the jut of his hips.
The scent here was musky and thick. JC could almost taste it, it was so tangible. It made his mouth water.
Ignoring Lance's choked cries of need - and of concern, if he had been listening - JC closed his lips over the head of Lance's cock and held it, careful of his teeth, in the hot, wet cavern of his mouth. A shudder went through JC, not of fear, but of ecstasy. Lance's hips jerked up before he was ready, so he pinned them down. Then, eyes fluttering half closed, JC slowly took a little more of the shaft into his mouth. He rubbed his tongue against the throbbing flesh, sucked a little, sucked harder when Lance seemed to like that.
Lance combed his fingers through JC's hair, holding for a moment before moving, with some reluctance, to settle on JC's shoulders instead. JC's ears were filled with Lance's cries of need and want, his words broken, sentences senseless. JC focused on breathing, on the taste and texture of the cock in his mouth, on the hands gripping his shoulders, and he slid down further. His own cock, full and neglected between this thighs, ached with pleasure. Heat seemed to fill JC, the intensity of it rising with every moment he held Lance in his mouth and tasted Lance's desire.
At last JC had to pull back to gasp in breath neglected while he wrapped Lance's cock in hot, wet velvet. He licked while he breathed, fast little touches that were either a tease or a promise of more. Lance's fingers dug almost painfully into JC's shoulders, so he eased his grip on Lance's hips and let him thrust wildly for a moment, riding the frantic motions first with startled awkwardness and then with increasing ease.
After a while JC pinned Lance down and swallowed him again, this time with a new strength of purpose. He wanted to feel Lance vibrate under his tongue as he came, wanted to hear cries of pleasure bleed into cries of completion, wanted to taste the results of his work.
Lance didn't last long under this new, sweet assault. Thrusting hard against JC's implacable grip on his hips, he came with a loud and heartfelt cry of release, JC's name on his lips. JC let the hot liquid slide down the back of his tongue and startled himself by coming hard even as he swallowed, the release of heat between his thighs an unexpected but welcome flood of sensation.
JC laid his head on Lance's thigh and wondered, as their breathing slowly calmed, why it felt like he'd done that for himself rather than for Lance. Lance's fingers threaded through his hair, the tips trailing over JC's scalp in a soothing almost-massage. "That was," Lance said with a little sigh, "quite wonderful." JC relaxed and felt a slow smile curve his lips.
Lance tugged a little, so JC squirmed until they were lying not quite eye-to-eye. Lance's lips brushed JC's ear as he spoke. "That wasn't as hard as you though it would be, was it?"
"What do you mean?" JC asked, looking at his own hands flat on Lance's chest. He got the feeling that the other man didn't mean the sex.
"Taking what you wanted," Lance clarified. JC stiffened, but it was hard to stay tense while curled up next to a warm body whose owner was stroking the back of his neck.
"I did it for you," JC protested, but it sounded weak even to him.
"I know," Lance responded. JC could hear the smile in his voice.
They lay there, quiet, for a long moment. JC, feeling the silence build, finally had to break it with a question. It seemed a safe moment to indulge his curiosity. "What do you do?"
"How do you mean?" Lance asked, sounding almost sleepy.
JC bit his lip but pushed on. "You have a library. A bathtub with water piped directly to it. A home so large it took me a week to figure out where everything was. You buy salves and set them free whenever they ask. How can you do all that?" "Ahh," Lance's fingers stilled their caresses. JC bit back a disappointed sigh. "My father left me a lot of money when he died," Lance began. "I was strangely fortunate in that I truly mourned him when he went. Instead of indulging myself in my wealth as I have seen others do, I grieved. By the time I'd pulled myself together enough to appreciate my inheritance, I'd also become aware of how fast it could slip through my fingers.
"I consulted my father's accountant - who almost died of shock - and set aside the majority of the money. What I did use I considered capital. I built my own business from the ground up. When I'd earned enough to live on - if modestly - I judged myself capable of handling my father's fortune. Things took off from there, I guess."
It was the most Lance had ever said to JC. He hesitated to question, as if there were a limit to the words they could speak. But Lance had begun stroking his neck again, and the words just seemed to slip out.
"But...what is your business?"
"I didn't say, did I?" Lance sounded amused. "I'm a representative for foreigners who come here and don't know the customs. Traders, diplomats, travelers - anyone willing to pay a reasonable fee."
"You got rich doing that?" JC knew he sounded skeptical, but he couldn't seem to help himself.
Lance chuckled. "I suppose it helps that I manage my money well. This house is paid for, so it doesn't take a huge amount to maintain it. The servants aren't paid, although I do provide for them. Little things like that. The accounting can get incredibly boring. I never did let that accountant go."
JC felt obscurely relieved by the answer. He rubbed his thumb idly across Lance's chest. "I was being trained as a minstrel, before," he blurted out, then bit his lower lip. He waited miserably for Lance to laugh, to express his disbelief. To roll away.
"What instrument did you play?"
JC pulled back so that he could look Lance in the eye instead of at his nipple. Lance just looked curious. Almost casual. "Piano," JC answered, and rolled over to lie on his back.
Lance propped himself up on one elbow lifted one of JC's hands and contemplated it. "You have the fingers for it," he said, and smiled.
JC was bent over his desk, the quill scratching across parchment, when someone knocked on the door. His hand jerked, startled, and a large blotch of ink appeared on the page. "Shit!" he exclaimed, and glared at the slowly spreading mark even as he sprinkled sand over it in a futile attempt to limit the damage. "Come in," he called, putting the quill aside and giving the page a last mournful look.
Michael was standing in the doorway. JC stared, surprised. They hadn't spoken much, except when JC was attempting to figure out what was going through Lance's head. "Hi," Michael said, a little awkwardly.
"Hi." It was all JC could think to say.
Finally Michael seemed to steel himself to say something. "Lance wants to buy you a piano but he's afraid you'll think he's paying for the sex," the young man revealed, and fled.
"Michael, wait!" JC called, dashing to the door. Michael jerked to a halt halfway down the hall. "Did Lance ask you to come?"
Michael blushed and glanced over his shoulder. "Nope!"
JC grinned and returned to his room. He gave up on writing after ruining the page with two more spots of ink. He couldn't keep his feet from bouncing, and they kept jarring his elbows.
It was Thursday. He could wait two days.
Merra and Kari broke routine that Saturday. Instead of arriving with oil and a robe, they followed two men carrying a washing tub. The robe was draped over Kari's shoulder, but in their hands they held kettles of hot water. The washtub contained a few inches of cool water already.
"What's this?" JC asked, confused. He'd settled into their simple routine of preparation.
"Lance wants you to be particularly clean tonight," was all Merra would say. She handed him a washcloth and a little jar of soft soap. Kari poured the hot water into the tub and tested the temperature. Then the two of them left the room.
JC stood there for a moment, confused and just a little bit scared, but he soon climbed into the tub and began to scrub every inch of his body. By the time he was done, he was cleaner that he'd been in years. Water was not commonly available to slaves. A thin sheen of oil and scrapers were more what he expected.
Did Lance have something planned?
JC was surprised to find Lance waiting for him. He wasn't any later than usual. "Hey," he said, a little nervously, and dropped down next to him. Their thighs brushed lightly.
"Hey," Lance smiled.
There was something a little off about the smile. JC frowned and looked closer. "What's wrong?" he asked, and ignored the little ball of resentment that curled up in his stomach.
"Nothing," Lance said, glancing away, and JC wanted to believe him, because it was Saturday. Except that Lance always wanted JC to look at him. And now he was looking away.
"How am I supposed to trust you," JC asked softly, "if you don't trust me?"
Lance looked up, surprised. "I...you don't...that's not why..." he trailed off and rubbed his temples with his fingers. JC barely hesitated before crawling around behind Lance and replacing the massaging fingers with his own. "I just had a bad meeting with a client this morning," Lance explained, "that's all."
JC let his fingers move down from Lance's temples to loosen the knots in the back of his neck, then his shoulders. He hesitated to continue because then he'd have to take Lance's robe off, and what kind of person would want to touch someone so obviously not in the mood?
JC felt guilty.
"Hey," Lance murmured and turned around, "you stopped rubbing." JC didn't say anything, just sat back and twisted his hands together, because everything he could think of to say sounded too demanding. Or plaintive. "JC," Lance touched his cheek gently, "if I didn't want to be here, I wouldn't have come."
"I'm sorry," JC dropped his gaze. "I guess... You could be with anyone. Why be with me? I don't even serve you properly."
Lance took his face between his hands and kissed him deeply. "I'm here," he said intently, "because you're beautiful and sexy, and because you want even if you can't ask, and because every time we're together I find it a little easier to believe that you might be the person I'm looking for."
Blue eyes wide, JC looked deeply into Lance's gaze and suddenly it was almost easy to ask for something he'd been dreaming of for days. "Touch me?"
Lance smiled brilliantly, all evidence of his bad mood gone, and JC felt a warm glow spread through him.
They discarded their robes quickly and slid into each other's arms with something like familiarity. Lance pushed JC to the floor and straddled his hips so that their hips and thighs and cocks rubbed against hot, flushed skin with every movement. JC let his head tilt back and moaned, and for the first time he didn't wonder if that was okay, if he was allowed to enjoy himself, if his sounds pleased Lance.
Instead he just moaned and clutched at the thick carpet. Lance's mouth worked magic on his skin, sending little spikes of pleasure shooting through JC's body until he wasn't sure he could stand anymore. His hips bucked up uncontrollably, but Lance just rode him. JC fisted his hands into the carpet to keep from clawing Lance's beautiful pale skin.
Slick wet caresses were scattered across his skin at random. Lance would suck at one hipbone, tantalizingly close to JC's aching cock, and the next moment their lips would tangle together again. Short, harsh nips that brought intense throbs of desire were followed by long, slow, teasing suction or quick cat-like licks that prompted whimpers instead of gasps.
The teasing went on for so long that when Lance's mouth abruptly descended on JC's cock he screamed with pleasure and surprise and arched up so high he actually felt his back and his thighs lift up off the floor.
JC let the carpet go and buried his hands in Lance's hair instead. "Oh, God," he moaned, voice breaking. "Oh, God, Lance..." he trailed off into panting, hitching breaths, trying not to pull on Lance's hand but unable to make himself let go. Lance pushed back against his hands. JC moaned in disappointment as his cock slipped slickly from between his lover's lips.
Lance chuckled and rubbed his cheek against JC's shaft. He did not lift his head from between JC's thighs, and JC had a moment to wonder why before his balls were first bathed in warm breath and then licked. Thoroughly. "Oh!" he cried out, but the surprise quickly dissolved into a long, low moan as the soft, warm touches went on.
His hips jerked upwards in response to the caress of Lance's lips and tongue, but Lance made no move to restrain him. No, he let JC writhe and pant, his body slick with sweat, and when JC was too far gone to wonder why he was tilting his hips a little Lance licked back further, his tongue sliding over the tight ring of muscle there.
"Fuck!" JC almost screamed. Lance stopped, utterly frozen for the moment it took JC to choke out, "Don't stop. Please, don't stop."
The world sprang back into motion. JC's legs fell open a little without his willing it. Continuous pleas fell from his lips as Lance licked harder and harder. When he finally thrust his tongue inside JC sobbed it felt so good. He was so hard it hurt, and though cries for more passed his lips he wasn't sure what he was asking for.
The agile muscle, the slick heat inside of him was almost too much for JC. The deeper Lance pressed inside of him, the more he wanted, the less he could ask for. Words deserted him in favor of gasps and moans and cries of need.
When Lance wrapped a warm, strong hand around JC's cock, JC came immediately. He shook uncontrollably as pleasure rolled through him and spent himself in intense bursts of heat and sensation.
After a few moments JC propped himself up on one elbow and looked down at Lance where he lay on his belly between JC's legs. "C'mere," JC murmured thickly, and tugged Lance up his body with arms heavy with satisfaction. They kissed slow and wetly, and JC put a hand in the small of Lance's back and encouraged him to thrust against the hollow of JC's hip.
After Lance had spent himself in a warm rush, JC wrapped both arms around him and fell asleep.
JC woke slowly.
He was itchy, a bit sticky, and warm. He was also currently sprawled across the chest of the source of all three sensations. JC lifted himself up slowly, careful not to disturb the still sleeping Lance, and took a moment to study his lover.
Sleeping, Lance looked his age. When he was awake he somehow managed to project a sense of control, of experience that made him seem far older than 23. Now he looked young...vulnerable...beautiful. Looking down at him, JC almost lay back down. But he didn't. Instead he wrapped his robe around himself and left the room. After all, it wasn't Saturday anymore.
JC carefully put the quill away before going on. Ian was sitting on his bed, reading. He'd shown up nearly an hour before, book in hand. JC didn't mind the company, as long as he was quiet while JC wrote, so he stayed.
"Why haven't you asked Lance to free you?"
Ian set down his book as though he'd been expecting this. Maybe he had been - he never did say why he just wandered into JC's room. "I am free, JC," Ian said. He gave the slave collar he wore a sharp tug, "This doesn't mean anything. Not here."
JC shook his head and waved one hand expansively. "It means something out there," he challenged.
"Yeah," Ian agreed. "It means I'm protected. It means Lance can take care of me. Free men may have it better than ninety-nine percent of slaves, but here in Lance's household, we're the one percent.
"Lance gives those of us that have the background and the desire to try for more a leg up before he frees us. The rest of us...we're happy just to be safe and comfortable and loved. We have a place here, JC. We make Lance's life run smoothly, and we all know that he knows that. I don't need to own property, or run a business, or travel. I'm happy here."
JC didn't say anything for a long time. When he did, it was only:
"I'd like to play the piano again."
Ian shrugged and got up off the bed. "So ask for one," he said on his way out the door.
The piano arrived Tuesday.
It hadn't been as hard to ask as JC feared it would be. Ian at his back, he crept nervously down the hall to Lance's study and perched in the doorway until he was noticed. When Lance looked up, wire rim glasses perched on his nose, papers spread before him, an ink stain smudging the heel of one hand, JC was momentarily speechless.
Then Ian nudged him sharply in the back. "I, uh," JC scratched the back of his head. Lance watched him calmly, a small smile on his face. "I...um..." Ian poked him in the back again. "I'd like to play the piano again," JC blurted out, not at all as subserviently as he had intended. He glared over his shoulder at Ian.
"Okay," Lance said, smiling wider.
JC blinked. "Okay?"
"Okay, then," JC said, and let Ian lead him out of the doorway and back down the hall.
So on Tuesday, JC guided the men who delivered it into one of the infrequently used sitting rooms. Then he slid onto the bench and rested his hands on the cool white keys, and tried to remember how to play.
It was rough at first. After all, it had been 12 years since he'd last had an opportunity to play. But slowly, slowly, muscle memory began to return. The songs he played were simple and he hit more than one sour chord, but his hands moved as naturally over the keys as they always had, and the notes were achingly beautiful to his ears.
He hadn't realized how hard it had been to live without music.
He played all day Tuesday. He played Wednesday through lunch. He played until his hands were sore. He almost played through dinner, too, but then he remembered what after dinner meant on Wednesdays.
When Merra and Kari arrived they found JC perched on the end of his bed, waiting. Behind them, two men carried the tub into the room again. Remembering Saturday, JC couldn't get clean fast enough.
Lance was waiting for him again. JC smiled and slid to his knees before his lover, then leaned forward and gave him a lingering kiss. "Thank you for the piano," he murmured.
"You're welcome," Lance responded. They sat quietly for a moment. JC knew Lance was afraid he would feel obligated because of the gift. He looked around for something to break the moment and spotted a small clay jar by Lance's hip.
"Have something planned?" he asked, nodding at it.
Lance hesitated. "Yeah," he answered. "I want to show you something..."
JC leaned forward, "Will I like it?" Lance blushed, which made JC blush, but Lance choked out "I hope so" in that deep, smooth voice that JC loved, so he pushed aside his embarrassment and concentrated on setting their robes aside. Concentrated a little too hard, maybe, because after a moment Lance lifted his chin and kissed him, eyes twinkling with amusement.
JC smiled back and slipped his arms around Lance's waist. They just kissed for a while, long slow kisses. Kisses for the sake of kissing, rather than merely as foreplay. JC let his hands wander, making mental note of the spots that made Lance gasp and shiver. It seemed like Lance had known these things about him forever. He could arouse JC in an instant, or bring him up so slowly that the intensity of it could prompt tears.
JC was so entranced in learning Lance that being pulled down to lie on top of his lover was almost a surprise. He grinned sheepishly and allowed himself to be drawn into another long kiss. Another slow kiss. JC couldn't help but wonder what Lance was planning that he felt he needed to work so hard to get JC relaxed.
The thought flashed through his mind that he could pull away and never have to find out what that was. He could pull back and smile and lose nothing, because Lance would smile too, and the next thing JC knew he would be Ian, the guy talking the nervous new slave through Lance's "lessons".
And in the next instant, he knows he won't, because he can leave, if he wanted to. Because Lance pulled them down with JC on top, which means that JC has an escape route, if he needs it. Because Lance is working very hard to get him relaxed, despite the fact that between them Lance is hard and excited, his hips twitching with aborted thrusts. Because Lance is making it so easy for JC to leave that he's almost pushing him away, when JC knows as well as any of the slaves in the house that the last thing Lance wants is to be alone.
So JC smiled and let his body settle firmly down upon Lance's, and licked the line of Lance's jaw and whispered into his ear, "I trust you."
Beneath him Lance shuddered a little, and his hands tightened on JC's back. JC rolled his hips a little, biting his lip to muffle a whimper of pleasure at the rough friction. Lance's hands stroked up and down his back, from shoulder blades to ass, over and over again, until JC wanted to reach back and hold those hands in place himself.
He was about to surrender to the impulse when Lance's hands settled on his ass and gave it a long, slow squeeze. Maybe long and slow should have gotten boring by then, but JC moaned and thrust hard against Lance's stomach all the same. Another massaging squeeze, Lance's fingers dipping tentatively into the crevice. JC caught his breath and licked Lance's throat a little.
JC pressed his face into the curve where Lance's neck met his shoulders and let everything except the feel of skin sliding against skin fade away. Lance's hands were firm, strong on his ass, just cupping the curve one moment, squeezing firmly the next. JC gasped and rolled with Lance's grip and wondered why he'd never noticed the strength in those fingers before.
He was so lost in the rhythm of thrust and squeeze, the slow swell and ebb of pleasure that he'd hardly noticed the absence of Lance's hand when it was back, fingers slick with some kind of oil. JC caught his breath when Lance slid his hand down between the cheeks of JC's ass, his slippery fingers spreading warm oil over the opening there.
That breath was released in a low, involuntary moan when Lance applied a little pressure, not sliding inside, just making his presence felt. "You like that?" Lance murmured into his ear, as if he really needed to ask.
JC answered anyway, gasping out "oh, yes" over and over as though those were the only words he knew.
Lance's tongue flickered out, wetting JC's earlobe so that the warm breath that came with his next words seemed cold. "It gets better." JC whimpered, hips thrusting strongly against Lance, and cried out loudly, wordlessly when a single finger pressed into him.
His arms wrapped around Lance, JC's legs fell open almost unconsciously, inviting a deeper touch. Lance obliged, pressing the invading digit deeper into the heat of JC's body, but only for a few moments. He ignored JC's half spoken plea. Instead he dipped two fingers into the jar of oil, coating them carefully.
Lance pressed a kiss to JC's throat as he slowly thrust two fingers into the tight passage. JC sprawled across him, panting heavily, his hips tilting up to meet the press of Lance's fingers. Lance moved slowly, still slowly, letting JC adjust to the penetration.
JC's world has been reduced to two fingers. If he thought Lance's tongue felt good, pressing past that ring of muscle, teasing skin that had never really been touched before, this felt fucking incredible. The slide and thrust of those two digits...he wanted to growl when Lance withdrew, could only moan when he was pierced again. It was good... "So good," the words slipped past his lips without thought.
There was barely time to register the whisper of "it gets better" before Lance's fingers inside of him touched something, set something off, because then there was an electric throb of ecstasy through JC's whole body. He thrust hard against Lance and came in long, hot, shuddering pulses. Somewhere in the back of his mind he registered Lance's cry of completion with a certain amount of satisfaction.
Lance's fingers slipped out of JC. He sighed softly and tried not to wince when Lance used a cloth to clean off still-sensitive skin. "You weren't sure I'd like that?" he asked sleepily as Lance settled down next to him.
"Not everyone does," Lance murmured in return, and spooned up behind JC.
"Mmmmm," JC tilted his head back to rest on Lance's shoulder and covered the hands around his waist with his own hands. "I loved it."
Lance opened his mouth as if to speak, but in the moment he hesitated JC slipped into sleep. Lance swallowed the words and tightened his arms around JC.
Itchy, sticky, in Lance's embrace. Again. He left before Lance woke. Again.
At the door to the room, JC paused and looked back at the young man curled alone on the thick carpet. Does he miss me when he wakes? JC wondered. Does he wonder why I didn't stay? What would it be like, to wash with him in that private bathroom instead of in the cold stream of water that supplies the house's general baths? What would it be like to make love in the morning instead of the evening?
What would he say to me, if I stayed?
JC sat at the piano, his fingers picking out random tunes as his mind wandered. It was easier to think sitting on the bench, the cool keys slowly warming under the play of his fingers. He supposed it was a good thing he'd been forced to give up the piano so long ago. Thinking too much was generally discouraged in a pleasure slave.
Now, it was nice to have the background music to his thoughts. There were so many of them, so confused. The thread of melody helped him to focus, stopped his mind from leaping from one train of thought to another so quickly that his chest started to tighten in panic.
JC couldn't sleep. His mind couldn't settle enough for rest, even after he'd played the piano for hours. It was past midnight.
Ian wandered into the room, dressed only in a pair of loose cotton pants, rubbing his eyes and squinting into the lamplight. "JC?"
JC's fingers stilled on the keys. The music faded slowly. "I didn't mean to wake you."
"Can't sleep?" Ian sat next to him on the piano bench. JC just shrugged, since the answer was obvious. "Let me guess. You're thinking too much about last night."
Last night. Wednesday night. A beautiful night.
"Yeah," JC confirmed quietly.
"What are you thinking?
"More like feeling," JC placed his fingers on the piano keys again, but didn't press down. The potential for music hover under his fingertips. "I'm worried, I guess. But I'm also excited. Confused. A little cold, scared, in some parts. A little warm and safe in others." He smiled a small smile, "I'm not making much sense, am I?"
Ian stood and patted JC on the shoulder with a chuckle. "A man in love never makes much sense," he said, and wandered back the way he had come.
JC looked after him for a few minutes before taking up the music again.
The days between Wednesday and Saturday dragged by one agonizing minute at a time. JC, unable to sleep alone in his bed, ended up dozing off in odd places. Over the piano, in the middle of lunch, leaning against a wall.
The wide variety of sleeping places and positions left JC with such a torturous combination of cricks in his back and neck that he accepted Lance's offer of a massage Saturday night with as much anticipation for the relief of pain as for what would surely follow.
Lance's fingers dug into stiff muscles time and again. JC sighed happily. "You're really tense," Lance murmured quietly, when he could at last relax the vigorous massage into something more sensual.
Only then did JC realize just what kind of message his knotted muscles had been sending. "I've been sleeping strangely," he murmured in response, and stretched under Lance's hands, totally unaware of the way the lamplight gilded his skin. Slight shadows highlighted the ripple of muscles and the slide of skin. Above him, Lance caught his breath, one hand coming to rest in the small of JC's back.
Oblivious, JC rolled over and sat up, pulling his knees up and resting his forearms on them. The motion sent Lance's hand sliding across JC's back, over his hip and onto his stomach. JC pretended not to notice, though he was hyper aware of the warm weight resting against his skin. "I'm too excited to sleep," he whispered, ducking his head a little.
"Maybe a little too nervous, too?" Lance asked, smiling gently.
"Maybe. But in a good way."
In answer, Lance leaned forward and kissed JC. JC had been expecting something long and slow, relaxing, as they had had Wednesday. What he got was fast and intense, lips pressed against lips, a quick stroke of tongue across his mouth. He'd barely gasped and leaned into it when Lance pulled away. But only long enough for JC to pull in a quick breath before Lance claimed his mouth again.
The kiss was longer this time, but no less overwhelming. Heat and slickness, tongues twining together, Lance's hands sliding up his neck, fingers buried in his hair. Lance knelt above him, his head tilted down to meet JC's mouth. JC moaned. Eyes half lidded but unseeing, he felt for the tie of Lance's robe and opened it to allow his greedy hands to come to rest on naked hips.
JC spread his thighs and tugged Lance forward to kneel between them. Lance pressed close for a moment, his hardness pressing into JC's stomach for a hot, sweet instant before he pulled back. His hands slid down JC's neck to rest on his shoulders. "Are you ready?" he asked, quite serious though he was out of breath, his eyes dark with arousal.
JC pushed Lance's robe off his shoulders and cast it aside. He slid his hands up Lance's back and down again. Lance's pale skin grew flushed under his touch and his cock grew hard and flushed. "So ready," JC breathed, meeting Lance's gaze eagerly.
Lance took him at his word and pushed him down to lie flat on the plush carpet. JC bit back a moan as Lance pressed his lips to the side of JC's throat. Tilting his head back encouragingly, JC surrendered and let the moan go, a long, hitching breath of desire. Lance smiled into his skin and gave him a long, slow lick before moving his lips down further, trailing soft, wet kisses down the center of JC's chest.
Content, for the moment, to lie still under Lance's caresses, JC moved his hands to cup Lance's ass. The muscles flexed in his hands as Lance leaned forward to nibble at the trail of hair that began on JC's belly. JC let out an anticipatory sigh and tilted his hips up. The movement rubbed his cock momentarily against Lance's, prompting a coursing ache of want. JC repeated the motion, and groaned a little as Lance slipped out of his hands and away from the delicious friction.
He wasn't to be disappointed for long. A moment later Lance's lips closed over the head of JC's cock, prompting a startled cry of pleasure. Lance swirled his tongue around JC and wrapped one hand around the shaft. JC pressed his head back into the carpet, fingers fisted in the plushness of it, and lost himself in the wet heat of Lance's mouth. "Yeah," he moaned softly, unaware of his own words. "Come on," he gasped as Lance brought him quickly to the brink...and drew him back with a stream of cool air blown across JC's cock.
"We've barely started," Lance promised, voice rough with need, even as he reached for the massage oil.
JC brushed a hand along Lance's jaw and tilted his head so that their eyes met. "I want you," he said huskily. Lance just trembled and pressed a kiss to JC's skin just below his navel, but a moment later he slipped a hand between JC's and stroked a slick finger against his opening. JC lay back and tried to relax, despite being wound tight with anticipation. He let out a long, shuddering sigh and tilted his hips up. Lance accepted the unspoken invitation and pressed a single finger into the heat of JC's body.
JC welcomed the invasion, his breath catching in his throat before emerging in an eager moan. Lance's finger slid in and out of the grasp of JC's body, impaling him with quick jabs. "Please, Lance," JC moaned, one hand closing tightly on Lance's shoulder. "More, god, please..."
Watching JC's face carefully for any sign of discomfort, Lance coated a second finger with oil and opened JC further. JC's eyes were closed tight, his mouth sagging open a little as he gave voice to cries of pleasure. He rolled his hips, taking Lance's fingers deeply inside his heat.
Lance tried desperately to restrain his own desires. JC law sprawled before him, his thighs gripping Lance's hips, nipples tight with arousal. His fingers clutched at the carpet in time with eager thrusts, his body seeking out Lance's touch instinctively. Lance couldn't wait anymore. He needed JC, needed to bury himself in the hot grasp of the beautiful man spread before him.
Quickly he spread oil over his cock, gritting his teeth as he clung to control, afraid for an instant that he would come before he was even inside his lover. JC protested the withdrawal of Lance's fingers with a near incoherent murmur even as Lance prompted him to rest his legs on Lance's shoulders.
JC had a moment to feel incredibly exposed before Lance's cock nudged at the opening to his body, then slipped inside. "Oh!" he cried out, startled. Lance held still for a moment. Too still. The shallow invasion was just a taste, a tease. "More?" JC pleaded, half holding his breath.
Lance let out a relieved gasp and loosened his control just a little, allowing himself to slide slowly into the tightness of JC's ass. It was unbelievable.
"Oh god," JC moaned. "Oh god, oh god, oh god," the litany went on. Lance's shaft filled him completely, a hard, welcome presence that either radiated heat or sparked new flames in JC, because he was burning with pleasure, with need. It was good, so good. It could be better. "Move," JC commanded softly, not thinking, just wanting.
The word had hardly left his mouth before Lance was moving, long, slow thrusts that kept JC at a slow burn. JC pressed his head back into the carpet, his breath coming in short, abbreviated gasps. He lifted one hand from its death grip on the floor and rested it on Lance's hip as though to guide his motions.
"Fuck, Lance," he cried, fingers digging into Lance's skin, "just let go." He lifted his head, his fevered gaze capturing Lance's. "Let go," he reached up and pulled Lance down for a long, stroking kiss. When he pulled away he tilted his head so that his lips brushed Lance's ear. "Enough of lessons. Just be my lover," he murmured.
"Yes," Lance hissed, as though he'd been waiting. He caught JC's lips in brief caress before abandoning the almost torturously slow pace in favor of hard, deep thrusts that had JC clutching him close mindlessly.
Their bodies moved together, the slide of skin against skin aided by sweat and oil. JC closed his eyes tightly, unable to think, only to feel. A tight coil of pleasure grew in his groin. Every movement of Lance above him wound him closer to the breaking point. "Lance?" JC moaned, pleading.
"So good," Lance gasped, seemingly unhearing. "So good, so tight, so close..."
A hand closed tightly about JC's cock. "Fuck!" JC cried, and came in intense, short bursts. Before they'd faded the liquid heat of Lance's own release flooded him, a sweetener to the aftershocks of pleasure.
They untangled their limbs lazily only to curl around each other in a more comfortable position. JC's fingers wandered idly up and down Lance's back. A familiar caress, rather than an inflammatory one.
They slipped into satiated sleep without a word.
When JC woke the next morning Lance was already up and watching him with a small smile on his lips. JC returned it, though his stomach was twisting with nervousness. "I have a meeting this morning," Lance said after a moment, "but I didn't want you to wake alone."
JC felt a twist of guilt, but pushed it aside. "I'm awake now," he said, still smiling.
"So I see," Lance responded, and brushed a kiss across JC's lips before rising to his feet. He scooped up his robe and shrugged into it. JC looked up at Lance, who hesitated before speaking. JC held his breath waiting for the words, but all Lance said was "Have a good day."
"Have a good day?" JC repeated to himself once Lance had left. He shook his head, grabbed his robe, and headed to the servants' baths.
"And he said?" Ian prompted.
JC, sitting on the bench of the piano, frowned and scratched the back of his neck. "He said 'Have a good day.'"
"'Have a good day'?" Ian asked incredulously. JC nodded miserably. "Well," Ian paused, "Lance is opening himself up to being hurt as much as you are with this. He probably didn't know what else to say."
"Even 'see you Wednesday' would have been better than 'have a good day,'" JC said, and idly struck a random key on the piano. It rang sour. JC sighed. "I can't help but wonder if he wants to see me again. What if he's gotten what he wanted?"
Ian shook his head definitely. "I don't think that's it, JC. He kept on with Sam long after their last 'lesson.' He was looking for something other than the sex. That's why he finally ended it."
JC shrugged. "Maybe he's just gotten tired of me faster than he tired of Sam," he said softly.
"Hey," Ian turned JC to face him, "Lance isn't like your mistresses were. He doesn't cast people off like so much garbage. You can't forget that."
"You know what the worst part is?" JC asked, turning to settle both hands on the piano keys. "I still want to be with him."
Any response Ian might have made was cut off when JC started playing the piano.
Wednesday night came and went.
Merra and Kari did not appear in JC's rooms.
Certain of what he would find, JC nevertheless crept through the halls and slipped into the room where he normally met Lance. He waited, but Lance never appeared. At last, eyes gritty with tiredness, JC returned to his room and stretched out on his bed.
He stared up at the ceiling for the rest of the night.
Thursday morning found JC perched on a bench in the kitchen, eyes dark with lack of sleep. The kitchen slaves, from the head cook on down to the scullery maids, hovered over him, worried.
"He didn't show up at all?" a girl barely half JC's age asked, wide eyed. JC just shook his head.
"I swear," one of the junior cooks said, shaking her head, "we all swore up and down that he really liked you. We thought you were, you know, the one." The head cook, in flour to her elbows, said nothing, but kneaded the bread dough rather harder than necessary.
"Well," JC said, not sounding quite as defeated as he looked, "it's not quite over yet."
"How do you mean?"
JC shrugged and picked at a nick in the tabletop. "Lance said he wanted a lover. Well, a lover wouldn't just wait around for his partner to come to him." With that, he snagged a bread roll and got up and left.
By dinner time the whole house was buzzing with gossip. JC began to think he shouldn't have said anything. He distracted himself from the speculation by ensconcing himself at the piano and refusing to budge even for lunch. At dinner he forced himself to eat, hoping to calm the nervous twisting of his stomach. It didn't help much.
After dinner, JC just couldn't wait any more. He went to the servants' baths, scrubbed himself clean though he didn't feel particularly dirty, retrieved a small pot of massage oil from his rooms and went creeping through the halls of the house with an uncertainty he hadn't felt for weeks.
Lance's rooms were empty. JC could only assume he was in a meeting with some client or another. Standing uncertainly in the doorway of Lance's bedroom, dressed only in a robe and carrying massage oil, JC's courage almost deserted him. After a long moment he took a few quick steps over to the bedside table and set the oil down.
The robe he hung on a hook on the back of the door...next to Lance's identical robe. JC touched it with a hesitant finger. Biting his lip, JC sighed and crawled in between the sheets of Lance's bed to wait.
JC woke to the light drifting touch of fingers on his brow. He blinked his eyes open slowly and gazed stupidly up at Lance for a moment. "I didn't mean to fall asleep," he said at last, and immediately kicked himself for saying something so commonplace.
Lance sat on the edge of the bed in his robe. Over his shoulder JC could see formal clothes carefully hung on the door. "It's all right," Lance said softly, "walking in here to find you asleep in my bed was just about the best moment of my life."
Slowly, a broad smile spread over JC's lips. He reached out and took Lance's hand. "I love you," JC admitted softly, not meeting Lance's eyes.
Lance lifted JC's gaze with a finger under his chin. "Good," he said, and smiled, "because I love you."
"So," JC licked lips dry with nervousness, "so why didn't you show yesterday?"
Lance crawled into bed beside JC before answering. "As long as I always came to you, there was inequality," he murmured. "I needed to know that you want me, that you're willing to come to me when you please, not just when I please."
JC smiled and scooted closer to Lance. "I please," he said, and kissed Lance.